Nigeria’s upper legislative chamber Wednesday, amended a bill that would ensure that Internally Displaced Persons can participate in the 201 5 general elections in the three north-eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, where the Federal Government had enforced a state of emergency rule following series of attacks and killings by the Boko Haram insurgents.
The new Electoral Act 2010 (Amendment) Bill 2014, in accordance with Section 42, is to help the Independent National Electoral Commission “establish sufficient number of Polling Units in each registration area” for eligible voters who have been forced to live in various camps after fleeing their homes during attack on their towns and villages.
Senator Ali Ndume (APC Borno South) who sponsored the bill stated that his people would be disenfranchised if no provision was made to ensure that their right to vote is guaranteed in their various camps.
According to Punch Newspaper, the amendment bill, which passed its first reading in the Senate states that: “the issue of establishment of polling units at IDPs camps has to be addressed before the issue of voting during elections. If polling units are not established as stipulated in Section 42; it will be impracticable for them to vote.
“Section 49 states that, ‘A person intending to vote with his voter card, shall present himself to a Presiding Officer at the polling unit in the constituency in which his name is registered with his voter card.
“Therefore, it is expedient that Polling Units should be created for or transferred to IDPs Camps in order not to disenfranchise them during elections in Nigeria,” the amendment bill said.
There have been concerns over the outcome of the 2015 elections, and its implication for the Presidency, if the displaced persons are unable to exercise their rights to vote.
President Goodluck Jonathan announced the extension of the State of Emergency in the three north-eastern states on Tuesday, after a five-month expiration of the deadline.
Some members opposition parties have however, faulted an extension of the State of Emergency.